WASHINGTON, DC (CBSDFW.COM/CBS NEWS) – Texas Congressman Roger Williams, who coaches the Republican Congressional Baseball Team and was injured during the shooting on June 14 2017, returned to Eugene Simpson Field with colleagues Wednesday morning for the first practice of the season.
Last year’s baseball practice shooting left four victims wounded — including Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who recently completed his final surgery in a series of surgeries following the incident. Scalise, who is recovering from that final surgery, was not present Wednesday.
Also injured less severely were U.S. Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner, aide Zack Barth, and lobbyist Matt Mika. The shooter, James Hodgkinson, was shot on the scene and died from his injuries.
“Despite the horrific event that took place just 10 months ago, it was comforting to be back on that field with my teammates for the first time,” said Rep. Williams. “As coach, I knew we had to go back there and show the world that we are strong, and that we will not be succumbed to fear. We’ve got a lot of work to do before the game, but I’m confident that we’ll pull out a win against the Democrats this year.”
Zack Barth, legislative assistant for Williams, who was shot in the leg that day, also returned to the field with the rest of the team. Barth, along with other aides, attends practices and assists the members of the team.
“The events of June 14 are still fresh in all of our minds, but getting back to practice is something the group needed,” said Barth. “I am excited to be helping the team again this year and am looking forward to a Republican win.”
The annual congressional baseball game has been a partisan tradition in Congress for more than a century, pitting Republicans against Democrats. But last year, the shooting created — if only temporarily — a sense of bipartisan unity on Capitol Hill, in a highly partisan time. Last year’s game raised more than $1 million for charity, and set attendance records.
Scalise called surviving a “miracle” in an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” last year, and expressed hope that some of the unity generated by the tragedy would continue on Capitol Hill.
“Ultimately on some of these big issues, we’re not that far apart,” he said at the time. “But when everybody goes into their separate corners, it’s just real easy to demonize the other side instead of saying, “OK, how can we come together and figure out how to get done what’s important for the country?” Hopefully this might have pulled us a little bit closer together. It’s easy for that to go away, but I would hope that we focus on how we can achieve some of those things that we haven’t been able to get done yet.”
The 2018 Congressional Baseball Game will take place on Thursday, June 14, 2018 at Nationals Park. Right now, the record shows: 40 Democrats – 39 Republicans – 1 Tie.